LIGHT, DARKNESS AND THE TREE
I would like to start with a story about a carpenter who builds houses. Most people begin with a roof when they draw houses. However, the carpenter in this story starts by drawing the ground. This painting was created by a working man and shows the carpenter’s unique roots that others are not aware of. Even though I have studied architecture and worked in this field for a long time, I have never drawn buildings starting from the ground and using the foundation. I have always begun with a roof. Perhaps I have been working without being rooted in the fundamentals. As such, I wanted to determine the most fundamental aspects of my work. I became convinced that light and darkness, as well as life and beauty, should be at the root of my work because they have been the most significant issues for me for a long time. I have decided to tell my story about them.
Light and Darkness
I believe that the beauty of an inanimate object depends on its shape. Shape is something visible and is necessarily interlocked with light. In darkness, no shape can be distinguished and shape cannot be distinguished only when there is light. The concept of a “black hall” and a “white hall” that are in an antipodal point cannot exist. I believe that light and dark and the perilous tightrope between them determines the existence of a shape and further defines the abstract beauty of its fundamental form.
In nature, which is filled with life, light and darkness are connected through a channel called time. Day changes to night, and darkness gives way to light. The channel that connects a “black hall” and a “white hall” is also a conduit of time called a wormhole. The change from light to darkness is the most definite evidence of time; time expresses its existence through light and darkness. The reason that the perilous tightrope between light and darkness can be defined as an ultimate form of beauty is that its movement casts the vital power of time over form.
From a frontal view, a person’s face is made up of light and darkness. The eyes, ears, lips, eyebrows, and skull are symmetrically divided into light and darkness by the nose that towers over the center of the face. The meaning that symmetry possesses becomes obvious through light and darkness. The bisection, the difference emphasized by cutting in half, transcends the idea of a simple outline that determines shape and provides beauty through the tension between light and darkness. Different from the frontal aspect, the facial profile has neither strong symmetry nor a center line. The lateral face can be read only by the outline that the overall face possesses, rather than through light and darkness.
Perfect symmetry between bisected halves, such as the two sides of a person’s face, can be most effective for maximizing the contrast between light and darkness. Although perfect symmetry can most clearly show the contrast between light and darkness, it cannot represent the changes in the tension between light and darkness that occur over time.
The object is divided into three parts (upper, middle, and lower) in order to express the changing tension of light and darkness. The lower part, which corresponds to the beginning of time, shows a flat symmetry that responds only to light or to darkness. The middle part shows the perfect three-dimensional symmetry that maximizes the contrast between light and darkness. The upper part, which corresponds to the end of time, tacitly destroys the symmetry so that the object can respond only to light or darkness. This results in the circular iteration of light and darkness of the overall object. The time symmetry allows the object to look as though it is in a perfect symmetry. It mixes light and darkness with an overall tension when responding to them, superimposing the object with the flow of time.
Similar to the hands of a clock, which rotate at a constant speed, the object, which is formed by the linking of numerous squares that are inscribed within one other, sometimes stops from the axis of time and sometimes rotates at a certain speed. The created object shows a simple vertical shape from the front, side, and rear. However, it assumes a completely different volume and shape when viewed from a different angle.
Specifically, this is maximized at 45 degrees to express the spatial symmetry of the object through the contours. The three-dimensional spatial symmetry makes the tension between light and darkness even more perilous and is expressed vertically along the axis of light, consequently imbuing the object with liveliness from all angles.
The circular tension of light and darkness expresses the flow of time, or its liveliness. The object that is created in visuospatial symmetric shapes for the purpose of expressing its liveliness, repeatedly casts light and darkness on the object as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The part that once shone brightly and warmly, would then turn deep dark due to the movement of light, while the darkness would become bright and warm again soon. This kind of circulation, where light becomes dark and darkness becomes light again, reflects the life of an ordinary individual.
Our reverent and beautiful life is similar to a tree in which light and darkness coexist. The tree is nature’s ultimate beautiful creation and filled with light and darkness. Each object embodies a unique light and darkness. These individual objects form the complete shape of a tree, and depending upon the interlocking the objects, each one’s light and darkness are sublimated into our light and darkness to create a tree that breathes.
Tree of Life (Light and Darkness)
Life does not consist only of brightness nor is it full of darkness. We can feel the weight of darkness because of the existence of light and we can also feel the joy of light due to the presence of darkness. The light and darkness that are cast on the tree change according to the movement of light. The part that once shone brightly and warmly becomes covered by darkness, while the deeply dark space begins to gradually shine. This tree of life (Light and Darkness) is where light and darkness coexist and represent our humble and beautiful lives, which simultaneously possess the brilliance that is expressed in love, joy, pleasure, and happiness, as well as darkness that is conveyed in sadness, anger, despair, and frustration.
Concluding the Story
I began a journey alone to find the direction of my life as an artist. Thankfully, whenever I encountered difficulties, I had people who surrounded me and who became companions on my journey. This helped me travel far without giving up. I would like to conclude the story by saying that I hope my works will make someone else’s life as warm as mine has been with the help of other people.
“If your life is now shining warmly, I hope you feel grateful about that warmth since darkness might come at any time. If your life is completely dark, I wish you strength to overcome that darkness bravely. Bright and warm light will certainly come after the darkness.”
Se Yoon Park